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Rules to Understand Gerunds with Examples

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Rules to Understand Gerunds with Examples

Generally, gerund is verb + “ing”. Without exception, all gerunds end in “ing”. However, it becomes difficult to identify a gerund, since it is often confused with present participles and with other words that end with “ing”. The difference, here, lies in their usage. Gerunds are used as nouns, whereas present participles are used as adjectives.

This short passage is a solution for all your confusions regarding gerunds. Some words may be highlighted for your attention.


Reading helps you improve your vocabulary and grammar. One of the crucial aspects of grammar is understanding gerunds. It is one topic students find confusingInitially, you will have problems with putting gerunds in a sentence.  However, you should never give up trying. Working hard and long is, in fact, a tremendously rewarding activity. One must get used to using gerunds and participles comfortably. So put on your running shoes and go ahead with your preparation. It is no use learning if you don’t apply the rules. So keep practising. Be committed to discovering new things.



Now that you have read the passage, let us discuss the highlighted words. The common factor among these words is that they end in ‘ing’. But are all of these gerunds? And have they been used similarly in all the sentences. Read on to find out.

  • Reading is the subject of the sentence and it is a gerund. Gerunds, as nouns, can also be subjects of a sentence. E.g. Smoking is prohibited here.


  • Understanding is also a gerund. It works here as the complement of the verb ‘to be’. This is different from the continuous verb. How? Here,the verb is clearly ‘is’, whereas ‘understanding’ is not part of this verb. It shows a different action. Eg: One of his duties is cleaning the room.


  • Confusing ends in ‘ing’. But it is not a gerund. It is a participle because it acts as the adjective for the noun ‘topic’. E.g. Singing birds do not sit on branches. Here, ‘singing’ modifies the noun ‘birds’.


  • Putting is a gerund and is used after the preposition ‘with’. Very often, when a verb is used after a preposition, it is in the ‘ing’ form. E.g. In keeping with the laws, the judge forgot all about justice. Here ‘in’ is the preposition.


  • Trying here is a gerund after a phrasal verbPhrasal verbs composed of verb + preposition/adverb such as ‘give up’ and ‘put off’ are followed by gerunds or gerund phrases. Eg: I put off going to the doctor.


  • Working hard and long is a gerund phrase. It begins with the gerund ‘working’ and functions as a noun.


  • Some phrasal verbs include the preposition ‘to’. In that case, they are always followed by gerunds. Here, using is the gerund after the phrasal verb ‘used to’. ‘To’ is not a part of the verb but rather a part of the phrase and acts as a preposition.


  • Running has been used here as a gerund in a compound noun. A compound noun is a noun formed by joining two words. It is clear that the meaning is that of a noun, not of a continuous verb. E.g. The water in the swimming pool is dirty.


  • Learning: A gerund is compulsorily used after expressions like ‘can’t help’, ’no use’ etc. E.g. She couldn’t help falling in love with him.


  • Practising here is the object of the verb ‘keep’. E.g. I enjoy singing.


  • Even though ‘to discovering’ may look wrong because you learnt about infinitives, this is correct. Some words like ‘committed’ and ‘inclined’ always take the preposition ‘to’ after it. Then rule 4 applies. The verb after the preposition ‘to’ takes the gerund form because the ‘to’ is not part of the verb itself. Otherwise infinitives never take the ‘ing’ form.


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